Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Protecting Archeological Sites in Tunisia and Libya, Roman Mosaics In Roman Africa Stories In Stone from Getty Publications

With all the political unrest, rebellion, revolution and increasing military activity in North Africa, especially in Libya, I've been checking for news mentioning the archaeological sites and Museums displaying objects of the rich history of Roman Africa.  Luckily recent news suggests that archaeological sites and Museums in Libya and Tunisia appear to to be safe, so far.  This is great news and hopefully both Tunisia and Libya will stabilize and I won't lose more sleep about the fate of Roman era sites and mosaics and will dream instead about actually visiting Libya and Tunisia to view the archaeological sites and museums in person.While the history of the region involves much more than the influence of ancient Rome, that remains my core interest.
There is a fabulous book about the mosaics and archaeological sites of Roman Africa, primarily focused on Tunisia, which provides a wonderful history of the Roman era in North Africa.  Stories In Stone:  Conserving Mosaics of Roman Africa, Masterpieces from the National Museums of Tunisia, Edited by Aïcha Ben Abed, Getty Publications, 2006.  This heavily illustrated overview of Roman Africa was published to coincide with and memorialize the Getty Museum Exhibit, Stories In Stone, October 26, 2006-April 20, 2007 with artifacts drawn from the National Museums of Tunisia.  I was not able to visit the Getty Museum while the show was on, but I did purchase the book.

The content and art package provide a comprehensive overview of the Roman Era in North Africa and with 140 color illustrations and 1 map, this is both a great read, a great reference and a great source for visual appreciation of Roman Era art and artifacts.  The artifacts of the exhibit and book came from the three major archaeological museums in Tunisia, the Bardo Museum in Tunis, the Sousse Museum, and the El Jem Museum.

I don't own any books concerning the Roman Era focused on Libya but I am encouraged to NOT see any horror stories about damaged or looted sites or museums, although the chaos there seems to be on the increase.  If I were to acquire a book about the Roman sites of Libya it would be Libya: The Lost Cities of the Roman Empire, by  Antonio Divita, Ginette Divita-Evrard, Lidiano Bacchielli, photographs by Robert Polidori, Konemman, 1999.  This is a lavishly illustrated overview of the Roman Ruins in Libya.  There are only a handful of these available today and if you are interested, act fast for the lowest price!

Leptis Magna, perhaps the biggest and best preserved Roman City is a UNESCO site and an active archaeological site.  There are many more Roman sites to be explored in Libya and I hope to do so in person some day.

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